Fuel Economy-a Beginners Guide

What is Fuel Economy?

According to Wikipedia, fuel economy in cars is the amount of fuel required to move a vehicle over a given distance. It is usually measured by the amount of fuel used per unit distance i.e. the number of litres of fuel used to travel 100 kilometres. The lower the value, the better the fuel economy as it takes less fuel to drive the same distance.

Why is Fuel Economy important?

With petrol prices at an all time high, a few simple steps to improve your fuel economy can save you money, which is always good. Plus, burning fossil fuels adds to pollution and climate change, and adds to our dependence on oil which, as we know, is a non-renewable source of energy.

What can I do to improve Fuel Economy?

Hybrid cars are considered to be extremely fuel efficient. A hybrid car is powered by petrol and electricity, so doesn’t burn petrol all the time. The Toyota Prius model, for example, is rated as the Top Performer on the Green Vehicle Guide from the Australian government with a fuel consumption of 4.4L per 100km.

Can I improve Fuel Economy without spending money?

Yes! The good news is there are lots of ways in which you can improve fuel economy without buying a new car or gadgets.

On the Road

  • Watch Your Speed - Higher speeds use more fuel. Most cars run at a maximum efficiency around 95kmph (60mph). Website www.fueleconomy.gov shows how driving speed affects gas mileage.

  • Drive smoothly – Avoid stopping and starting your vehicle as it takes more fuel to get a vehicle moving than it does to keep it moving. Aggressive driving like rapid acceleration and braking also wastes fuel as when you do it, you send more fuel to the engine.

  • Using Cruise Control can help save fuel as you travel at a constant speed

In the Garage

  • Look after your car – regular maintenance will avoid fuel economy problems like dragging brakes or transmission problems. A well lubricated engine reduces friction and takes less fuel to run. Also, keeping your car clean and waxed improves aerodynamics and fuel economy!

  • Correct tyre pressure is vital for fuel efficiency. Properly inflated tyres have less contact with the road, encounter less friction so the engine doesn’t have to work as hard to move the car.

  • Check your air filters – dirty air filters restrict air flow to the engine which reduces performance and economy.

  • Clean out the boot! Added weight reduces fuel economy.

Some other tips

  • Plan your trips so you make one big trip instead of lots of small ones – a warm engine is more efficient than a cool one.

  • Buy fuel on Tuesdays when it’s cheapest!

  • Keep an eye on cheap fuel prices in your area. Check out http://motormouth.com.au/pricesearch.aspx?Region=Sydney for Sydney.

Favourite Tip

While researching this piece, I came across one tip that most people would probably be willing to try – work a four day week! By driving to work one day less a week, you can save on fuel costs and help the environment. Now that’s one idea I will be pitching to the boss…

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